15:43 GMT +328 February 2017
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    Kosovo - Russia urges the West to think twice

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    MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Marianna Belenkaya) - Russia will not support the new draft resolution on Kosovo submitted to the UN Security Council by Britain, France and the United States on July 16.

    Moscow objects to the draft because it is still based on the plan of UN special envoy Martti Ahtisaari. Since Russia holds a veto at the Security Council, this means either the resolution will have to be drafted a fourth time, or a solution found outside the framework of the United Nations.

    Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin explained Moscow's position in clear and simple terms: "The draft and related documents are based on Kosovo's independence after a certain period. We cannot accept this approach. The status-quo should be defined at the bilateral talks, and their results should be solemnized by the Security Council."

    This position is nothing new. Russia has said more than once that it will not support any decision on Kosovo unless it suits both parties to the conflict - not only Kosovo's Albanians but also Serbs. Belgrade is still against the draft, so Moscow's response is not surprising.

    Churkin emphasized that Russia is not boycotting the Security Council's work on the draft resolution on Kosovo's future status. Rather Moscow believes that the major points should be agreed upon first, while the details could be discussed later.

    The draft co-authors are not impressed. They say they have made all possible concessions to Moscow. "This is our last attempt to consider all concerns. We can still change the draft's text but not its gist," said French Ambassador to the United Nations Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, speaking on behalf of the draft's authors.

    But Moscow insists on changing the gist. What's the point of juggling with words?

    This is the third draft. In working on it, the Western countries proceeded from the Ahtisaari plan which gives Kosovo independence without considering the Serbian position. Not without pressure from Russia, one of the drafts embraced the idea of new talks between Belgrade and Pristina. But it was assumed from the start that if the talks failed to produce results in 120 days, Kosovo would automatically become independent. This assumption ran against Russia's insistence on a negotiated solution, and was omitted in the latest version. But the problem is still there. To quote Ambassador Churkin, "the co-authors of the new draft have not given up a scenario which, after a certain period, would lead to Kosovo's independence without negotiated agreement between Belgrade and Pristina."

    At the same time, Russia is not the only Security Council member to urge talks between Serbs and Kosovo Albanians. This fact alone shows that the Ahtisaari plan, involving Kosovar independence, is not the only answer. Moscow is convinced that this plan has failed and suggests that a new go-between should be appointed for the Kosovo talks. There is simply no other option.

    Nor is Russia the only nation to reject the draft. A similar position is taken by China, which also has a veto in the Security Council. However, Western policymakers are mostly reproaching Russia for its adamant stance. Appeals, often quoted in the press, are being made to proceed with or without Russian participation.

    Veton Surroi, the envoy of the Kosovo Albanians at the talks on Kosovo, told the Associated Press recently: "Russia cannot have a veto over historic processes in Europe. It cannot veto Europe's unification."

    This could be accepted if it were not for one "but." Russia is also part of Europe and its security depends directly on European security, in particular, on the Balkans. Moreover, Moscow has economic interests in the Balkans and the rest of Europe. The European Union's internal policy is another matter, and Russia cannot interfere in it. But Serbia is not yet part of the EU and is obviously counting on Russia's support.

    The alternative route - trying to resolve the Kosovo problem outside the Security Council in order to avoid Moscow's veto - would create a dangerous precedent and finally discredit this international agency. Already badly damaged by the unilateral action in Iraq, France, Britain and the United States are not likely to sacrifice the Security Council's remaining integrity to Kosovo. They are not rushing to share their privileged status as permanent, veto wielding members of the UN Security Council with others, and are still clinging to this agency despite its many shortcomings. They know that if today they do without Moscow and Beijing, tomorrow they may be left out themselves, and not just by Russia or China: there are other claimants to leadership that are rapidly growing stronger and more confident.

    The authors of the new draft should think twice before making a final decision. Haste makes waste, and leads to armed rather than diplomatic conflicts.

    The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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